Job’s beginning rhetorical question affirms that no one can stand as righteous before God based on their own merit (1-3). Those who think they can, are described as ‘hardened’, thinking that God owes them (4). God’s sovereignty is subject to his own character, which is wise and all-powerful, even in his anger (5, 13). What some define as natural laws of the universe are just God’s normal way of governance, which he can override as he has done in history several times – nothing is mechanically predetermined, as though operating above his will, nor are things governed by chance – which is an inherent contradiction (6-9). Many of his wonders are past finding out, showing that we only know what we know because of what he chooses to reveal to us (10). His presence is to us invisible (11), but there can be no mistake about who gives and who takes away, and in Job’s case using the devil to do so (12-13 cf. 1:12).
Choosing what to say to the LORD is a thought-provoking exercise, one not to be taken lightly. He calls us to reason with him, but not on the basis of our own righteousness, though some may seem more righteous than others among men (14-15). Job is not convinced that even if he heard a voice responding to his prayers, that he would believe it to be God answering him, because of his current condition. Sadly, this seems to be where Job begins to slip in his faith, for it suggests that God has abandoned him because he took away what he had given (16-18). He is right to affirm the total depravity of all, that in God’s court, no one can justify themselves, that is, gain an acquittal based on their own righteousness. However, he seems to begin to stumble in agreeing with his friends that he is suffering for some particular sin(s) (19-20). Yet, he returns to a better understanding, that God can do as he wishes, quite apart from any particular sins (21-23).
Job gives an answer that should silence those who affirm some so-called free-will to human, such that God is not. Either God’s will is absolutely sovereign, or man has a greater power. Who governs the affairs of the humans and the universe – God, humans, or something else? Satan is more powerful than anyone standing alone without God, but even he is subject to God. The absence of true leaders, judging and governing according to God’s law, is a judgement on such societies (24ab). “If it is not He, who else could it be?” (24c) For Job, time seemed to fly as each passing day increased his suffering (25-26). There is no way he could forget his complaint. To put on a smile in such circumstances is less than sincere (27). Job cannot understand how he can wash himself of particular sins he may have committed, and still suffer as he does (28-31). Again, he repeats that no one is on an equal footing with God in His court of law (32).
Job understood the idea of justification in God’s law-court. No one can stand acquitted based on their own righteousness, but rather, one must plead for mercy (14-15). Not only so, but he also knew that a mediator was needed as a go-between, one whose righteousness could stand on equal footing, and able to act on one’s behalf (33). Job finds it impossible for him to pray, because in his mind he is suffering for some particular sin(s) that no mediator can absolve him of. So, Job continues his complaint, not to God as prayer per se, but to any who would hear (9:34-35-10:1). His question to God remains why he is contending with him, even though it is the devil who is contending with him (2). He slips on this very point, for he accuses God of lacking just judgement (3). He asks God why he apparently cannot see the injustice of his situation (4-7).
Although he acknowledges God as the giver of his life and the blessings thereof, he seems to be slipping on the point made earlier – that the LORD gives, and also takes away (8-12 cf. 1:21). Job again reiterates that his own righteousness is not able to justify him in God’s presence (13-15. If we are exalted, he can easily bring us low, as he has done with Job (16). He seems to accept his friends’, and perhaps others’ words about him as God’s witness bearers against himself (17). Again, he wishes that he had never been born (18-19). This is but one side of the suicide coin, for it is a wish to not have been born to fulfill the ultimate purpose of anyone conceived – to glorify God, and to enjoy the LORD for his covenant children – no matter how young one may be. Job also sins in doctrine now, for he suggests that a covenant child of the LORD, such as he was, would upon his death go to a place of darkness, such as the Roman cult teaches (20-22).